Friday, 20 April 2012

Now here, now hear

GospelLuke 24:35-48

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
  They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
  Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

'One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.' --Leonard Ravenhill

It is astonishing that, after the traumatic and rejection-filled experience of the Crucifixion, the Risen Christ returns to his friends with such gentleness and intimacy. Especially as although he may have been wonderfully transformed his followers most certainly have not. 

They remain fearful and confused; they are so distracted by the wonder of what other people are saying that the resultant shrugging and tutting of what to believe allows Jesus to appear, as if from nowhere. 

Almost like one of those street magicians who uses distraction to fool his audience; Jesus appears in the midst of his friends' lack of faith. Their eyes still do not see; their hearts still do not believe.

You would imagine that it would be Jesus doing the tutting; how many times does he have to speak; how many times must he appear; how many more hot dinners does he have to eat? 

But there is a serenity to him here; these are not the accusations from before; he can see even further into their hearts and he understands that these are his last opportunities to open their hearts to what has be achieved by his sacrifice. 

But fear blinds the eyes and twists the words that are spoken; so before the teaching, the sharing of food. Jesus does not want to be remembered through some unique miraculous act or ritual. His desire is to be with us in the peace and hospitality of the shared table. 

Only then, can the disciples be witnesses both to Jesus' resurrection and to the prophecies that have led to our redemption.

Prophecy is a strange notion - we are afraid of the idea that our life is set out before us; carved in stone in a library of eternity;that  before we are even born our Death is counting down the moments to whisk us away. If everything is predestined then why bother?

But that is not prophecy. God has not written a blueprint for our lives or the life of the world. The prophets, particularly the unpopular ones, looked at the world that they were living in, looked at the actions of the people who were living in it and recognised the distance that was building between God and his people. Their task was to shout out the error of our ways but their own humanity and our own stubborness kept us from returning home. There were other choices - we just didn't make them. 

From the very beginning Jesus shows the many, many times that God was beckoning us whilst, like the Prodigal Son, we ran further and further away.

 Unlike the Prodigal Son, the love of our Father meant that we didn't even have to wait until we were sitting hopeless in pig-dung; our brother, Jesus volunteered to come and redeem us; to come, in person, and claim us back. No matter what. 

George Santayana said 'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it'.  Jesus teaches us that this is also true of our spiritual life. He leads us to  our calling and our responsibility to teach others; in Jesus' name.

The value of the Old Testament may be dependant on what seems its imperfection. It may repel one use in order that we may be forced to use it in another way—to find the Word in it…to re-live, while we read, the whole Jewish experience of God’s gradual and graded self-revelation, to feel the very contentions between the Word and the human material through which it works. –C.S. Lewis



val said...

Anyone believing in a hell fire for any child of God as being of God does not truly know him (1 John 4:20). God is love 1 John 4:8 and ….
*Rom 13:10 “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”. Not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing and I prove it by the word of God at The true Gospel now delivered sets us free.

Philomena Ewing said...

I love this part "You would imagine that it would be Jesus doing the tutting; how many times does he have to speak; how many times must he appear; how many more hot dinners does he have to eat? ! :-))

Word in the Hand said...

Dear Val - totally agree with you - otherwise what would have been the point of it all.

Phil - I obviously have a lot less patience than the Lord - blessings to you m+X

claire said...

His desire is to be with us in the peace and hospitality of the shared table.
I expect it is still His desire today. Oh, to remember this as we sit down at the table to share a meal with loved ones and friends...

Thank you, Word :-)